Planted Where?

Not a master gardener by any stretch of the imagination, but I love containers with green and colors flowing over.

What you and I don’t see is the spidery roots warm and cozy down in the soil. Drinking up moisture and nutrients and anchoring in place what we do see. Just what we need when it comes to our souls. To flourish in our harsh environments we need good soil, nourishment, and something to hold us steady. 

“Those that are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God.” (Psalm 92:13 WBT)

The thing is this is not one and done. Doesn’t take long for tender shoots to wilt if we forget to water them. And once well established, grooming and feeding change ‘just growing’ to ‘thriving’. But sometimes that’s painful.

I hate pruning roses. Seems harsh, but left alone they don’t produce much. Recently my husband cut a scraggly bush way back. Lo and behold, the new growth is amazing. So it is with us. God sometimes has to vigorously prune to transform us from ‘just believers’ into ‘pursuers’ who thrive and attract others. “They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green.” (Psalm 92:14 NIV)

Hmm, that’s sounds good. I want to be fresh and green even in old age. Not in the sense of no wrinkles or white hair, but in the sense of a heart that has left behind selfish ways and is filled with the dew of Christ’s nourishment. So how? And why?

This is a daily thing. Surrender, prayer, His Word, repentance. We are a constant work in progress. As we outwardly grow old, inside we are being refreshed and renewed. And someday that new will last forever. No more pruning needed. But still why? Because this life is not all there is. To live for self means fading away like a bouquet of flowers. To live for God and His eternity is being well rooted and ever green.

Then we will go about declaring “The LORD is just; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” (Psalm 92:15 HCSB) Planted where we thrive – in Christ’s love.

All Times…

Sometimes I let people down. Do you? Sometimes I let myself down.

It’s gotten harder in our world of instant everything. To take the time to think before we speak, act, react – seems archaic. So there’s face time, instant messaging, texts, and more. ‘Instants’ we can’t take back – at least not without damage done. 

Then, too, our world is all about self – abandoning any thought of sacrifice for others. Does this person make me uncomfortable? Will that job affirm my self-esteem? If there’s any left over at the end of the month, then I’ll give some away. “Treat others just as you want to be treated. “ (Luke 6:31 CEV)

I’m learning more these days about how we disguise our ‘self’ stuff as acceptable, after all we’re not as bad as the guy on the news or the lady two doors down.

So we’ll say Jesus is top priority. Then we demand our way at the expense of another’s feelings. We justify our speeding while we give the dirty look to the slow driver. All this is selfishness and selfishness is the root of all s-i-n. “How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:4 NLT)

Just today, for the third time in one week on the same subject, I have tried to manipulate my hubby into fixing the water issue at our house. I’ve tried to guilt him into it. I’ve tried everything but…trusting that he knows the issue, the urgency, and it will get done.

This is bossy me. Maybe for you it’s not bossy, maybe its overwhelmed by life and seeking comfort in whatever form, or maybe its feeling like a failure. How can we replace these with good – and so glorify God? God wants us to realize He is always the answer. Bossy – name it and lift up your soul and ask for help. Seeking comfort in food or some other abuse – realize He is comfort, the best kind, ask. Telling yourself you’ll always blow it – He can redeem all our messes, surrender.

Nearer than our own heartbeat is the God who caused us to breathe – and He wants us to know in everything He is our answer and His love is for all times…

Right There…

These days I wonder more about terms like ‘leap of faith’ or ‘stepping into the unknown’.

So easily we forget how near, how intimate our God is with us. Knows the number of hairs on our heads. Knows our thoughts before we speak them. Knows our fears, worries, regrets. Knows and deeply cares – and carries us.

I just heard the passage in Acts 8:26-40 taught by a pastor. Before now I had not picked up its deep truth: how personally the Father knows our hearts and wants us to trust He knows our burdens. You see the passage is about a eunuch – a man castrated for service in the queen’s kingdom. A cruel way of making sure of fidelity. “and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah” (Acts 8:28 NIV)

Where he had gotten the Scripture we don’t know but the interesting thing is he was reading it out loud. God sent one of the disciples, Philip, to inquire if the eunuch understood what he was reading. And here’s a portion of the exact scripture the man was reading as Philip ran alongside the chariot “In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.” (Acts 8:33 NIV)

Wow, there are no coincidences with God. The very thing this man, a eunuch at the hands of an oppressor, wouldn’t have: descendants. It touched his heart deeply to know that someone else knew his sorrow. So when Philip came alongside, this man was eager to hear who the passage was about and why.

Oh, how Philip shared about a Jesus who is so familiar with our deepest longings, losses.

And you know what happened next? The man asked Philip to baptize him. No longer did he see a future of pain and loneliness – for he had found an eternity of wholeness and joy. The passage goes on to say “he went on his way rejoicing.” (vs 39)

So it is with you and me. That failed marriage, that estranged child or parent, the long hours spent weeping – our Jesus knows these. This earth life isn’t all there is – we can go on our way rejoicing. He’s right there.

Peaking Out…

A three month old buries his face in mommy’s neck as the photographer tries to capture his smile. A two year old boldly walks down the street until he hears me say “car” and then quickly hides behind my legs and peers out.

Me too. When something makes us feel ‘less than’ – we can bury our face in a Savior who understands our frailties. We can peak out from behind an all powerful God when fear and troubles invade our space. “You are my hiding place; You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” (Psalm 32:7 NIV)

But there’s a difference between peaking out and burrowing in covered in fear and doubt. When we peak out we’re saying ‘God, I trust You’ve got this’. Too often we run to what we think shields us from the hard things. Run to things like money or alcohol, things like unhealthy relationships or self-sufficiency.

God’s for us and no one can stand against – though butterflies form in our stomach, or tears stream down our cheeks. We need only lift our eyes to our Defender. “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 40:28a NIV)

We forget our weakness is His strength. Turning first to Him instead of being our own ‘fixer’ requires turning to prayer and His Word – again and again.

An infant can’t decide if a big smile or crying is the best response to silly noises a photographer makes. A two year old runs head long unaware of the uneven pavement he’s about to trip over. Reassurance from one they trust brushes away the hurt and fear. 

Isaiah 40:28 continues “He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”

You and me – oh we grow weary, so tired – even when things are seemingly good. Peaking out He assures us that He’s before and behind us. Bury your face but trust Him daily to show you His care and provision – go ahead, peak out.

 

The Exchange…

A twenty-something guy ran out to meet a man at his car. The older man handed him four suit coats – as they walked he said “If they don’t fit, I’ll help you get them altered.”

I’m guessing the young man had job interviews – maybe even a new job. Someone came to the rescue.

Reminds me of a story: once a son demanded his portion of his father’s estate long before the father died. He ran off and wasted every cent. Very sorrowful, he returned home. The father caught sight of him in the distance and ran to meet him. Noticing his clothes were threadbare, he gave him his very best coat. (read this story in Luke 15:11-31) He came to the rescue.

We need rescue. We have everything in Christ – and day in and day out we squander much of it. “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.” (2Peter 1:3 NIV)

Sure enough, when we reach the end of ourselves and turn back home, He meets us right there. No waiting for us to make our way, no profound apologies required. Just a Jesus who says: ‘here’s my best, it’s gonna be ok’.

Our world is spinning crazy downward right now. Recently abortion up to the moment of birth has been approved in New York, is about to be in Virginia and California – where next.

 

The freedom the woman is seeking, He can give her and her child in abundance. The wealth the clinics and doctors chase after can’t compare to the wealth God has in store. God gently reminds us…He still loves them. Still wants so badly for them to turn to Him for answers. “That’s how it is with your Father in heaven. He doesn’t want any of these little ones to be lost.” (Matthew 18:14 CEV)

We can’t be the son at the end of the story in Luke 15 who pouts and complains about how his once wayward brother is now being welcomed. We’re called to seek out those lost in the grips of evil, to offer a listening heart, to celebrate when one lost lamb turns back to God. An exchange no one should miss.

When Light Hits…

Early morning, no lights on yet, I reached into the cabinet to find a towel – the stripes looked dull gray. I knew they were red.

Science says color is sensations on the eye as a result of the way the object reflects or emits light. Without the light, no color.

I’m thinking that can be said of us. Jesus is described often as the Light. Without Him we look just like the rest of the world, but when He lights up our soul, it’s easy to tell the difference. “…a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” (1Peter 2:9b NIV)

Sometimes the darkness seems so much easier. It covers our shame, seems like more fun, we blend in. To walk in the Light makes us stand out. No longer able to live in what we know dishonors God, realizing the consequences of ‘fun’ aren’t so fun, and seeing blending in is blinding.

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of the light” (Ephesians 5:8 NIV)

Ever watched night turn into day? Faintly the edges of the sky turn from velvet black to shades of gray. And as the sun creeps over the crest, pinks and oranges tint the day. Tree leaves, once shadows, show forth green. A blue horizon grows reminding us the Light of the world has made another new day.

The Light invites us daily to be new again – and when His light hits touches our deepest parts our world is color-full. What color is love, peace, joy? Little red hearts, still blue lakes, flowers dotting hills? All these and so many more. He shows us the way: “The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.” (Proverbs 4:18 NIV)

Something else about that Light – the chill of night loses its grip. Clothed in a robe of Light we are warmed. Greet each day, arms open wide, ready for when Light hits.

Past Tense…

Sometimes ‘the past’ brings smiles, sometimes tears.

Trying to forget, many live on a fast track to whatever tomorrow holds. Always seeking that next best thing, moment, breakthrough. Others, weighed down, can’t move into now. We get lost forgetting that Jesus has already secured our future (and He’s used what has happened for our good). He calls us to live in today. God’s plan from the beginning was to make a way for us to always, ever live – abundantly.

“Later, knowing that all was now completed…Jesus said, “It is finished. With that, He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” (John 19:28-30 NIV)

Here’s the deal: nothing more is needed. We have an eternity of no sickness, no sorrow, one that never ends – Jesus has secured it. As a follower of Jesus we’re on that road to eternity, living for a purpose in the here and now and living for a future that we can’t fathom the greatness of. The reverse is true as well – for all who deny Jesus there is an eternity but it’s not a party – it’s utter darkness and aloneness – eternally separated from the Light.

Those are black and whites and most don’t like absolutes. But since our earthly days are numbered and do come to an end, eternity is a big deal. “He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11b NIV)

Here’s a partial list of the ‘dones’ of God: “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Ephesians 1:7a NIV) Done! “Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance” (Ephesians 1:13b-14a NIV) Done! “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6 NIV) Yes, we already have a seat in eternity with Jesus, done!

All these are past tense – and all these are ours. And there are so many more things God has done. Because of Him we are free to live without past regret or future fear. That’s living – not in the past but resting in an already done future.

 

Fussy…

Somewhere between sleep and wanting to see the world around him – this two month old can’t quite close those big eyes. So he fusses.

A lot like you and I. We’re offered rest in Jesus. We can read that He grants sleep to those he loves, that He watches over us and He never sleeps. But we won’t let go of our to-do list, or our worry list, or our ‘need this’ list. And we fuss.

“The LORD is your protector, and He won’t go to sleep or let you stumble.” (Psalm 121:3 CEV) “I can lie down and sleep soundly because you, LORD, will keep me safe. “ (Psalm 4:8 CEV)

It’s time to learn a new thing: we are most at rest when we are most relying on Him and not self. Oh, that may not sound new, but our actions (and reactions) say it is. I awoke in the wee hours last night and wondered if it was going to be one of those nights. The kind where my mind starts to wander and sleep wanders away. Suddenly I could hear a praise song ringing in my head and I felt the gentle ‘shush’ of my Father.

Next thing I knew it was wake up time. Fill ourselves with Him and we find ourselves overflowing with His rest just when we need it most. “Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.” (Psalm 90:14 NIV)

I don’t want to be the fussy child – I want to be the one dancing along each new morning. Feeling confident that today is good and right – even when it has storms and fears. Because the more we pray, the more we praise, the more we become familiar with His Word – the more we won’t be crushed by circumstances.

Lauren Daigle has a fun new song (Your Wings) and I love singing it over and over – especially when self wants to dominate: “You’re my covering – I’m safe, I’m safe; Whatever comes at me – I’m safe, I’m safe.”  No more fussing!

 

Hold My Wait…

We’re only one week into a new year and already anxiousness and fretting have penetrated most days.

Oh, I’m good at disguising them in prayers. Asking the only One who can accomplish my God sized longings. Truth is though, the many words and the stomach butterflies show my doubt. Still, He has given me a new word this year: N-e-w. Turning it over and over I see ‘new’ like a kaleidoscope – always changing.

The LORD‘s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise.” (Lamentations 3:22-23 GNT) I love this version of this verse – exploding like a sunrise, fresh like dewy drops on a green leaf. Unfailing love, mercy.

It’s the wait really. Trusting God has it all figured out, but so wanting to see it now.

Where does a waiting, weary world  turn? Often to so much that doesn’t satisfy. Holley Gerth says it just right “I’m learning, slowly, to lean on Jesus instead of flimsy earthly things that can never hold my weight.”

The weight of what a sin-filled world has caused is pressing in on us. Finding ‘new’ every morning becomes a weight-lifter we sorely need. “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and steams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV)

A way through the desert of our doubt. Streams of life into parts of our soul we thought long dead.

Praise has a way of restoring, turning dissatisfaction towards joy. An odd concept for most – praising God instead of man and accomplishments. But give it a try. Right now – ‘God you are my One and Only. There is nothing and no one better. You are the definition of love, of joy, of peace.’

When we speak praise we lose worldly weight. In those moments we are no longer held by gravity, but we’re lifted into His presence. So today I ask: ‘Father, hold ‘my wait’ and show me how to live in the newness of Your freedom.’

Just New…

It’s 2019 – time to look ahead – and maybe instead of wishing a Happy new year – how about just a new beginning?

We are bound by time. Ticking off days and weeks then years. But God is outside of those bounds. No beginning, no end. Every day (or moment) is a chance for a new beginning with Him.

Happy depends on our circumstances. New is a decision. A decision to not live in the past nor to worry about the future. But to seek the God who someday will walk us into a forever where we are no longer bound by time either. “There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 11:5 NIV)

What wonder this is – no need for light, no night? “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.” (Revelation 21:23 NIV)

With no dark, no fear. With the Lamb, love. This is the wonder of hope – for this great thing He is telling us about is what all our hearts long for. To be renewed and have forever instead of minutes.

This is the year to tell those you love, and those you stand in line behind, and those who drive you crazy: “I wish you New”. For all who accept Jesus this is His promise: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

And so – for as long as we’re bound by time – we will age, sickness will happen, death will come to our bodies. But hold on to this:: “Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” (2Corinthians 4:16 NIV)

Just New – my wish for you, new as only He can do!

 

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